How do we decide what restaurants to include in the Humane Eating Project app? Â Our policy is to include (almost) every restaurant that uses the term Humane.Â We believe the vast majority of restaurants using the term are doing the right thing by getting their ingredients from humane sources. At this early stage in the app, we want to map out everyone who is using the term. At this point we are not policing the term,Â just telling people where we believe the most humane options are out there.
We recently removed Five Guys from our database because although they were using the word humane, we do not feel that they are using humane sources. What happened?
Here is how they use the term humane on their website:Â â€śWhile our beef is neither organic nor are the cattle free range, our distributor purchases raw materials from the major meat suppliers in the US who are required to treat the cattle humanely and follow all the procedures set forth by the USDA.â€ť
Sounds fishy, right? We contacted them and asked them about their sourcing, and they would not provide any details. We donâ€™t think they are intentionally misusing the term,Â but we believe they fundamentally misunderstand USDA procedures and think that they somehow imply humane treatment of animals (you probably already know that they donâ€™t). Because we do not think they are trying to source humanely raised products, we removed them from our app.
Youâ€™ll hear us talk a lot about 3rd party humane certification organizations like GAP, Certified Humane, or Animal Welfare Approved. These organizations audit farms for compliance with strict animal welfare standards. You want to look for labels from these orgs when buying animal products at the store. The word humane by itself on a package at the store is not enough without one of these labels. So why is that word enough for restaurants?
The reason products need to be 3rdÂ party certified whereas restaurants can just use the term humane is a matter of practicality.Â For products and farms,Â there are three great 3rdÂ party certification orgs out there that certify.Â Everything is already set up, so they just need to get certified.
It gets a little more complicated for restaurants because these 3rd party orgs certify farms and products, not restaurants. Restaurants get their products from suppliers and have to trust that their suppliers are telling the truth about where their products are sourced. In a way, itâ€™s not fair to hold restaurants accountable if their suppliers are dishonest. So at this stage with the app, everyone who is trying to do the right thing gets in.
Our policy is also strategic. We are first mapping out every restaurant that is using the term humane. Later, when we have a critical mass of users and restaurants, we can start requiring or rewarding restaurants that source from 3rd party certified farms. We are working on a database of certified farms to make it easier for restaurants to verify their supplierâ€™s claims.